Asia Foundation partners with AT&T and Visa to launch “Accelerate” in Malaysia and Indonesia

February 8, 2022 — The Asia Foundation is collaborating with AT&T and Visa to launch the Accelerate program, an initiative that will help 6,000 women-led micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) enterprises in rural and remote communities gain practical skills to sustain and grow their business. In Malaysia, this initiative is fully endorsed and supported by the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives.

The Accelerate initiative addressed the urgent needs of women-led MSMEs in remote regions in a relevant, dynamic, and accessible way by utilizing the Foundation’s network of expert trainers and local partners to provide digital and financial literacy skills training and mentoring to women to support their businesses. According to Robin Bush, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Malaysia, “Women-led SMEs are a key driver of the economy in Malaysia, as in many of the countries in the region, and providing them with the skills to access the digital economy is like providing a life-line—both to the women themselves but also as a crucial part of economic recovery for the nation.”

Drawing on expertise from the private and NGO sectors, the program centers on ensuring that women business owners have access to the vital, practical skills and tools to reach their customers, grow their small businesses, and sustain the development and implementation of their business plans.

“With AT&T colleagues around the world who share a commitment to making a positive contribution where we live and work, I’m excited by this collaboration with The Asia Foundation and Visa to empower women entrepreneurs with the training, access to technology and skills they need to grow their businesses, create jobs and lead their communities,” Andrew Reinsdorf, senior vice president for International External and Regulatory Affairs at AT&T.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the livelihood and health of families, workers, and businesses across Asia. MSMEs that help drive the region’s economy have been particularly affected. In Malaysia, the MSME sector suffered a total of RM40.7 billion (USD9 billion) in losses last year. Similarly, more than 30 million MSMEs have closed in the pandemic in Indonesia. Female entrepreneurs were among the most affected as they already faced challenges such as limited access to funding, lack of networks and expertise, and negative gender bias.

According to Patsian Low, vice president for Inclusive Impact & Sustainability, Asia Pacific, “Visa is committed to digitally enable 50 million small and micro businesses by the end of 2023 to help them through this challenging time and support economic recovery. We are privileged to be a partner in the Accelerate program and believe that it will help women-led SMBs—especially in remote areas—gain access to the skills and knowledge they need to participate in the digital economy and improve their livelihoods.”

The Accelerate program is a customized, online-training program delivered by experts, using the Foundation’s existing tools and platforms. It also incorporates a guest-speaker series and a mentorship program. Through this collaboration, the Foundation will incorporate Visa’s robust financial literacy curriculum “Practical Business Skills” into the training program and engage both AT&T and Visa experts as mentors for the participants. These components add vital practical skills for the women business owners and provide in-depth support for the development and implementation of their business plans. Further, the access to networks, mentorship, and soft skills made possible through these partnerships are invaluable for these women entrepreneurs to achieve long-term business success.

To ensure the program meets the precise requirements of these MSMEs, the Foundation conducted a needs assessment and worked with local partners, StartupMalaysia in Malaysia and The Center for Women’s Resource Development (PPSW) in Indonesia, to curate program content, recruit participants, and support the delivery of the training workshops.

According to Esther Peh, the lead for International External, and Regulatory Affairs, Asia-Pacific at AT&T, “We are excited to expand our efforts to drive digital inclusion and enhance digital skills training in Southeast Asia through the Accelerate program. We are confident that the Accelerate program will help equip women entrepreneurs in Malaysia and Indonesia with the skills needed to better participate and engage in the digital economy of today and the future.”

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment, and climate action, and regional and international relations.

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About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with communications and entertainment experiences across mobile and broadband. Plus, it serves high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions to nearly 3 million business customers. WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content to global audiences through its consumer brands, including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies. AT&T Latin America provides wireless services to consumers and businesses in Mexico.

About Visa

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions, and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable, and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at Visa.com.

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